Residues of Toxaphene in Insectivorous Birds (Petrochelidon spp.) From the Rio Grande, Texas

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Abstract

Although it has been documented that wildlife in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) contain increased concentrations of organochlorine (OC) contaminants, particularly DDE, little has been published on residues of toxaphene throughout this major North American watershed. In this study, 28 liver composites from adult swallows (Petrochelidon spp.) collected along the Rio Grande from 1999 through 2000 were analyzed for toxaphene residues using congener-specific gas chromatography–electron-capture negative ionization–mass spectrometry. Estimated total toxaphene concentrations ranged from 12 to 260 ng/g wet wt and were highest in samples from the lower RGV near Llano Grande Lake in Hidalgo and Cameron counties (Texas). Toxaphene congener profiles were relatively invariant throughout the watershed and were dominated by 2,2,5-endo,6-exo,8,8,9,10-octachlorobornane (P-42a or B8-806) with lesser amounts of several other Cl7-Cl9 compounds, many of which remain unidentified. Petrochelidon spp. liver profiles appear to be intermediate in complexity between those in invertebrates and fish (more complex) and mammals (less complex) and differs somewhat from those reported for other avian species. In addition to other legacy OC contaminants, toxaphene residues were most concentrated in the lower RGV and accumulated at up to hundreds of parts per billion in these insect-eating birds, underscoring their utility as avian bioindicators of persistent organic pollutants.